Intellectually though, I wondered if there wasn’t a distinct difference between using macro-muscles hitting a baseball as opposed to smaller muscle groups like I did when I was cleaning. I decided I would try this non-dominant hand experiment with a man’s most fundamental need and desire.
The one men do almost every day.
It’s all we think about. For millennia, it has been the genetic imperative for all men …
Oh get your mind out of the gutter you sicko.
I’m talking about eating.
Both men and women can get obsessed with their body image. There’s plenty of instances in pop culture where men are pandered to with attempts to make us aspire to the Adonis on the cover of Men’s Health and women … well, let’s not go there. All I will say is that women have it worse than men in this cultural forum. By a few touchdowns.
Men and women who are not satisfied with their body should take whatever measures necessary to develop a body that they are satisfied with. I did this myself with measures both interesting and challenging and after about three weeks of enduring the annoying hunger pangs, I was able to go the first half of every day without eating with ease. After about three weeks of enduring the annoying hunger pangs, I was able to go the first half of every day without eating with ease.
And I love to eat. Who doesn’t? In America, we have so many options as to how to satisfy this fundamental need of our bodies that it’s overwhelming. As a thought experiment, I once drove from my apartment to work, about a 6-mile drive, and I counted 57 different instances of my attention being overtly drawn to an advertisement or signage for opportunities to eat. One must have a dump truck full of willpower and an almost pathological desire to remain at a healthy weight to weather this storm and as Americans, we encounter this all day, every day.
This is where my curiosity about using my non-dominant hand to improve the health of my brain’s right hemisphere relates to my endeavor to read up on Buddhist scholarship intersect. In a book written with Dr. Lilian Cheung called Savor, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn investigates how mindful eating will naturally lead to weight loss.
“Look deeply to see whether [the attributes listed that lead to overeating] apply to you so that you may understand the true nature of your problem with weight. Looking deeply requires courage. The causes are knowable and with diligent effort, you can get to the bottom of them. With greater insight into the reasons you are overweight, you can determine what course of action you can take to achieve a healthier weight.”
When I got sober seven years ago, it took about a month before my addictive personality overwhelmingly craved some sort of altered state. So I joined a gym. Since that day, rarely does a week go by that, 3-5 times in that week, I don’t engage in some form of moderate to rigorous exercise. I run, I lift weights, I do yoga. I became addicted to the endorphin high of exercise. But perhaps the most challenging thing of having an addictive personality (in the context of healthy activities like meditation and exercise, I call it being “proactive”) is abstinence. I’m great at going to the gym and eating healthy and meditating every day. I’m horrible when it comes to abstinence, hence my continued addiction to cigarettes and junk food. So, to add another level to the non-dominant hand experiment, I decided I would attempt to eat left-handed. To do this, I would have to terminate another bad habit that I expect plagues a great many people who live alone. I would have to turn off the television to concentrate on eating. This is perhaps the more difficult of the two and certainly the more beneficial because, speaking only for myself, when I eat while watching TV, I’m not tasting the food as much as I would otherwise. Worse, according to the Harvard Medical School, two obvious but often ignored facts about watching TV while eating are that 1) Being distracted or not paying attention to a meal tended to make people eat more at that meal and 2) Paying attention to a meal was linked to eating less later on
Obvious right? Obvious but rarely heeded among those live alone because the television acts as a surrogate companion when “enjoying” a meal. I used quotations marks there because when watching TV while eating, are we really enjoying the meal? Later in the same book, Hahn suggests ceasing conversation while eating as well which goes against another social construct around eating. IF we truly want to enjoy the meal, shouldn’t we also just shut our yaps?
All this brings us up to my current living situation. Living alone is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can literally do anything you want. On the other hand, you can literally do anything you want. If I want to go for a run, I go for a run. If I get home and desperately need to meditate to scrape all the negative, toxic gunk that has accumulated on my damaged brain that day, I meditate. If I want to strip naked and do nude yoga, I do it. I haven’t gotten any complaints from other tenants who would see me do this from the sliding glass door in my living room, so I figure I’m good with that too.
And if I want to watch Ozark while I eat stir-fry, I can. But should I? The food we eat is among sleep and exercise as the decisions we alone have the final word on and have control over. I realize that a single, middle-aged man has a lot more control over these decisions than married people or people with kids but I know plenty of thin, happy people with kids. I don’t have kids so I admittedly don’t know that world and don’t pretend to. But I do know that when it comes to what I put in my body and what I choose to do while I’m doing that is entirely up to me.
So, dear reader, I am going to try eating left-handed for at least one meal a day for the next week.
I should probably get a bib